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Pinot Pairings with Laura Booras, CEO at Riverbench Vineyard and Winery

When it comes to food and wine pairings, Pinot Noir is celebrated for its versatility. Due to its moderate tannin levels and heightened acidity, Pinot complements a wide range of flavors. Bold without being overwhelming, a glass of Pinot is the perfect addition to nearly any meal. For a red wine, Pinot Noir is user-friendly and easily drinkable. Its velvety elegance makes it a popular choice amongst red wine and white wine drinkers alike. A glass of Pinot Noir adds fruity, herbal, and floral tones to the table. One sip is all it takes to engulf the senses with the fresh aroma of red berries, blackberries, cherries, and plums. A hint of herbs, earthiness, and rose florals add complexity to the tongue that lingers even after you’ve put down the glass. 

While these rare grapes create a wide array of unique wines, Pinot Noir can be divided into two main categories, each with deliciously complex flavor profiles. Fruitier, less tannic varieties of Pinot pair beautifully with rich, creamy dishes such as salmon or pasta. Earthier, more tannic varieties match best with meaty dishes, such as duck or venison. 

For more on the perfect Pinot pairings, we asked Laura Booras, food and wine enthusiast, to share her favorite dishes, tips, and tricks. 

Mushroom and Truffles 

The earthiness of mushrooms and truffles reflect the natural flavors already captured within the thin-skinned grapes of Pinot Noir. This charming combination brings heightened levels of umami to the palette - that savory flavor we all know and love. At the same time the acidity in the wine keeps the savory elements balanced. For the ideal match, try a creamy mushroom risotto with a hefty glass of Pinot nearby.

Duck and Other Game 

Duck with Pinot Noir is a true wine and food pairing made in heaven. However, other game including quail, turkey, lamb, venison, and rabbit come in as a close second. Prepare for a mouthwatering combination of smoky, earthy, and meaty flavors and aromas. Gamey and grilled meats meld with the depth of this red wine in order to flatter and accentuate each other. High levels of tannins bind with proteins in the meat to soften the finish. Try with Peking duck or a Thanksgiving turkey and cranberry sauce for a rich explosion of flavor. 

Salmon and Other Fatty Fish 

A common misconception is that only white wine should be paired with seafood. However, Pinot Noir provides just the right amount of acidity and tannin to flatter the distinct flavor, texture, and fat of fish like salmon or tuna. The higher acidity cuts straight through the fattiness, acting as a natural palette cleanser in between bites. 

Pasta Dishes, Casseroles, and Stews 

Bring freshness to hearty dishes like pasta, casserole, and stew with a glass of Pinot Noir. The light fruity flavor lifts the palette in order to compensate for the heaviness of certain meals. Beef Bourguignon is a classic choice, as the Pinot brings out the meaty beef flavor, as well as onion, mushroom, and spices. 

Cheese and Charcuterie

It is hard to go wrong when pairing Pinot Noir with a cheese or charcuterie board. Classic pairings generally suggest something particularly creamy, salty, or herbal. Think of Brie, Camembert, Gruyère, or goat cheese. The Pinot highlights flavors like salt and herbs while the creaminess will blend with the wine for a smooth textured finish. For charcuterie, stick to salty versus spicy meats. Dried salami or prosciutto add the perfect amount of salt to counter the berry fresh wine.  

Rich, Dark Chocolate 

When it comes to dessert, bring on the deluxe chocolate decadence. Dark chocolate and Pinot Noir not only sounds elegant but tastes perfectly royal. The tart fruitiness of the wine will flirt with the bittersweet chocolate, making for a truly romantic combination. Try finishing off your glass of wine alongside dark chocolate-covered strawberries, creamy chocolate mousse, flourless chocolate cake, or rich brownies. 

Laura’s Personal Favorites- For Laura, the perfect Pinot pairings means, “Mushroom anything. I like game birds like turkey and quail too.” And for cheese, “Epoisses is famous with Pinot. I love Ossau Iraty and Manchego as well.” 

Pinot Pairings with Laura Booras, CEO at Riverbench Vineyard and Winery 1
Pinot Pairings with Laura Booras, CEO at Riverbench Vineyard and Winery 2
Pinot Pairings with Laura Booras, CEO at Riverbench Vineyard and Winery 3

Tips and Tricks 

If you are new to the world of food and wine pairings, here are Laura’s top 3 tips to help get you started.

  1. Focus on low alcohol, fruity, acidic wines. These are the key to good pairings because they go well with nearly everything! 
  2. Think regionally. Pinot Noir is concentrated in the Burgundy region of France, which also happens to be known for beef bourguignon, escargot, and black truffles. All of which, pair beautifully with Pinot. If you're in need of inspiration, look to the famous regional flavors to guide you. 
  3. Finally, get creative. The best way to discover new flavors and explore what you like is to get experimental!

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